Some people claim that the teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture is a recent construction of John Nelson Darby, and has only been taught in the Christian Church for the past two hundred years. In other
words, it is a novel doctrine whose historicity is questionable. However, I came across an early Christian text, the Apocalypse of Elijah, which appears to have teaching similar to modern pretribulationism.
The Apocalypse of Elijah is a third century text from a group of millennarian Christians in Egypt. Their document claims that when the Antichrist is persecuting the saints, Christ will have compassion on his people and send angels to carry them to the “holy land” where they will eat from the tree of life, wear white robes, and be safe from Antichrist’s wrath. After that transport occurs, all sorts of catastrophes happen on earth, including the murder of the two witnesses. Later, says the text, Christ returns with his saints and they reign on earth for a thousand years.
Rapture in the Apocalypse of Elijah, Gumerlock 1
In an article published by the journal Bibliotheca Sacra, I explain the provenance of the Apocalypse of Elijah, discuss its rapture passage, and compare and contrast its views with those of modern pretribulationists. Regardless of your position on when those “who are alive…will be caught up… to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:16-17), I hope you enjoy reading about this text, which, in my opinion, deserves a place in the discussion over the history of the pre-tribulation rapture teaching.
To read the article, click here.